GameDay Preview: Cavs vs. Celtics

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Tyler Zeller
Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (10-32) return to The Q where they will play 10 of the next 12 games, beginning with the Boston Celtics (20-20) tonight. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The Cavaliers are coming off a five-game road trip out West, which included a stop at Utah in their latest contest on Jan. 19. Cleveland turned the ball over just 10 times against the Jazz and is now averaging just 9.3 miscues over their last three games. The Cavs have also had fewer turnovers than their opponent in 13 of their last 16 contests, averaging 12.7 turnovers to their opponent’s 15.9 over that stretch.

On the five-game road trip, the Cavs forced 17.0 turnovers per game, while scoring an average of 19.0 points off of their opponent miscues. The Cavs have forced at least 19 turnovers in three of the five road games and rank 5th in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game at 15.7.

Boston has been streaky this season, dropping their last three games after going on a six-game winning streak. They are led by their newest version of the "Big Three", Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Rondo leads the team in assists (11.1 per game), Pierce in points (19.0 per game) and Garnett in rebounds (7.0 per game).

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller

Celtics: PG - Rajon Rondo, SG - Avery Bradley, SF - Paul Pierce
PF - Brandon Bass, C - Kevin Garnett

Injuries: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao, (Vastus Medialis Split/Surgery, Out), Daniel Gibson, (Illness, Game-Time Decison), C.J. Miles, (Illness, Doubtful)
(Celtics) - Chris Wilcox, (Sprained UCL, Right Thumb, Day-to-Day)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series, 116-69 against the Celtics despite holding a 48-45 advantage in games played in Cleveland.

It is the second of four regular season matchups between the two teams. In the first meeting on Dec. 19 at the TD Garden, the Cavs had a 13-2 advantage in offensive rebounds which led to a 17-2 edge in second chance points. Tyler Zeller made his first career start and scored a career-high 20 points on 9-15 (.600) shooting in 36 minutes against Boston. Tristan Thompson notched his sixth double-double of the season with 11 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 38 minutes, while Kyrie Irving recorded a team-high 22 points on 9-17 (.529) shooting, four rebounds and two steals in 37 minutes in that contest.

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Match Celtics Defensive Intensity

Coming into the month of January, the Celtics had a defense that was ranked in the middle of the pack with a rating of 102.1 which was good enough for 13th in the NBA. Once 2013 hit, the Celtics started to find their defense from years past and have the second highest defensive rating in the NBA ranked at 94.7.

The Wine and Gold must match the Celtics intensity at the defensive end in continuing to force turnovers and rebound the basketball.

Key Matchup

Alonzo Gee vs. Paul Pierce

The point guard battle between Kyrie Irving and Rajon Rondo should be entertaining, but the key matchup tonight will be Alonzo Gee's ability to contain Paul Pierce.

Rondo, Garnett, reserves Jason Terry and Jeff Green can all score but Pierce poses the biggest threat to the Cavaliers defense.

Pierce can score in a bevy of different ways. He can back you down and hit fadeaway jumpers, he can get hot from beyond-the-arc, or he can methodically beat you at the free-throw line. Pierce is famous for his pump fakes and using contact to draw fouls.

The 14-year vet is the Celtics All-Time leader in both free throws made and free throws attempted. He also is shooting up the list of the NBA’s all-time leaders in both categories as well, so Gee will have to play disciplined defense tonight.

If Gee can contain Pierce, it will increase the chances of the Wine and Gold coming away with their second-consecutive home victory.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 218, Sirius 134, NBA League Pass Audio

Promotions/Giveaways

Giveaway: Cavs Player T-Shirt (First 5,000 children 14 and under)